story & photo
by Jon Persson
With class sizes getting larger, the need for attentive adults in the classroom is ever greater; and who better than a nurturing grandparent to provide the added attention a schoolchild needs?
The Foster Grandparent Program has taken on this responsibility; it is a federally funded program administered in this region by Brian Cosgrove and Deb Patterson of the TVCCA.
“It’s a win-win-win” scenario, Deb continues, with tangible benefits for the children, the foster grandparent, and the school site. For the children, “many of whom have never known a biological grandparent,” says Deb, interacting with a foster grandparent brings a larger perspective to their lives. For the schools, another adult in the room allows for more tutoring, mentoring, and one-on-one interaction with the children.
The foster grandparents themselves see benefits on many levels. The opportunity to socialize with staff, students, and fellow grands, is always present. Besides working in the classroom, there are “monthly in-service training sessions,” Deb points out, where skills are honed in a social setting.
Foster Grandparents also “receive a stipend of $2.65 per hour with 20 hours a week minimum; the awards are tax exempt, so they don’t affect their other income sources,” says Brian Cosgrove.
Median age for foster grands is 74, with the oldest being 96. (“She has been with us for 30 years,” reports Deb).
“At this time, we are low on the number of foster grandparents,” says Deb, with 20 spots open.
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